What Is a Genetic Counselor?

The official definition of Genetic Counseling, according to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC):


                                                                            – National Society of Genetic Counselors, 2005

What Does This Mean?

Genetic Counselors are health professionals who have received specialized training in graduate school. They are experts in genetic conditions and diseases and how they affect a person medically, psychologically and emotionally. They use this specialized knowledge to support patients and their families.

Genetic Counselors help men, women and children; they help the young and the old; they help the sick and the well.


Counseling a patient is a multi-step process. Genetic Counselors:


  • Meet or speak with patients and take medical and family histories. 
  • Explain the genetic condition that a person is affected by.
  • Educate about types of genetic testing available, and the pros and cons of testing.
  • Order and arrange testing that patients choose to do.
  • Interpret test results, and give these results to patients and physicians.
  • Give patients detailed information about their genetic condition.
  • Refer patients to specialists.
  • Throughout the process, provide counseling and emotional support to patients and their families.